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Daniel Cormier, Jon Jones, and the 205-lb Belt: Going Forward

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Ever since Jon Jones first tested positive on August 22, the UFC, along with the world and fanbase of MMA, has been in a state of questioning. Why did Jones do it? What would happen to the result of Jones v. Cormier 2? What will be Jones' punishment? What's the fate of the 205 lb division now? In this article we'll go over some of those questions and try to figure out what the UFC can do in the wake of this disaster. 

First of all, we go to the most recent move in this debacle by the UFC. On September 13, 2017 as reported by Marc Raimondi on MMAFighting.com,

"Cormier said Wednesday on UFC Tonight that he spoke with UFC president Dana White earlier in the day and White told him he is the titleholder again. UFC spokesperson Lenee Breckenridge confirmed with MMA Fighting on Wednesday night that Cormier has been reinstated as champ….Therefore, Cormier is back to being the champion."

This is essentially the correct move by the UFC, because of the logistics of the current situation. On Sept. 12th, USADA confirmed that Jon Jones had tested positive in the 'B' sample of the Split-Sample that had contained the original positive 'A' sample that broke the news of Jones' use of a banned substance back in August. There was not much hope for Jones after the original sample because in Split-Sampling, the same specimen is used, only 'split' into two amounts to be able to double check the accuracy of the initial test.

In other words, this was essentially a confirmation that Jones had a steroid in his system at the time of pre-fight tests before weigh ins, no doubt. In response to the B sample announcement, he CSAC (California State Athletic Commission), who sanctioned the fight between Cormier and Jones, overturned the ruling of the bout to a NC (No-Contest), no longer a win for Jones, no longer a loss for Cormier. According to the official records now, the fight between them never happened. Since this is the case, Cormier would have remained champion if the fight didn't happen, ergo, DC is now reinstated as the UFC Light Heavyweight Champion. 

There are those who had some apprehensiveness about this decision from the CSAC. Many of the negative comments that take space on Daniel Cormier's latest Instagram post responding to this reinstatement and Jones' critics include the likes of "he still knocked you out" or "Can't overturn a KO". DC has had a calm response, as the current champ always has been about critics.

"People will say stuff like, well you got handed the belt...He cheated and the reality is for me to say, 'I don't want this title,' when I was gonna be in a championship fight anyway, financially it's just a big difference if I don't fight as the champion as opposed to fighting for the title.

Certainly this whole situation raises the question if Jones relied on steroids for the entirety of his career. Although the exact reason why Jones tested will most likely remain a mystery, what is a certainty is that he will be suspended once again. He's currently on a provisional suspension that was enforced directly after his positive test came to light in August. However with USADA's rules, Jones may be facing a maximum of 4-years suspension due to his past incidents. On a recent edition of Submission Radio, Jones' striking coach Mike Winkeljohn discussed how a 4-year suspension would effect 'Bones'.

"If it's a four-year thing, I think it could be just that kind of devastation...He messed up in that maybe he took something that someone said was fine, but he's not doing it thinking, 'I'm taking steroids or something,' you know, and that's the part that's terrible, he'd be devastated at four years."

Then there lies the void that Jones leaves in the 205 lb division. He would've been a clear Best-in-the-world candidate, but instead we are back at square one, with DC as the best, beating everyone that has come for his strap, and a slew of contenders, a few of which could make a legitimate plea for a chance at Cormier's belt. With Jones out of the picture for the foreseeable future, Alexander Gustafsson is now the #1 contender at Light Heavyweight, still showing off that he is in #1 contender form, arguably better with an emphatic late-round KO victory over #3 ranked Glover Teixeira in May.

The #2 ranked contender, Volkan Oezdemir, has seen a dramatic rise in the UFC. He won a decision in his debut against Ovince St. Preux, but then exploded with a first round KO in his second UFC fight against Misha Cirkunov and then in his 3rd fight against Jimi Manuwa. Both of those fights showed the KO power and finishing ability that Oezdemir brings. One must remember that he is also only 28, so he has a lot of time to both improve, and do more damage to his opponents in the Octagon. In fact, the next reasonable fight for both of these gentlemen would seem to be against each other, Gustafsson vs. Oezdemir would most likely go at it in a main event 5-round bout to determine Cormier's next opponent. 

The rest of the Light Heavyweight division is murky at this point in terms of consistency, #4 Jimi Manuwa is a legitimate case for a title shot as well, his last two wins coming by powerful one punch Knock Outs over Corey Anderson and Ovince St. Preux showed that he has brutal power in his hands as well, but after his KO loss it is assumed he needs some more time off. Beneath him at #5, is none other than MMA legend Shogun Rua. Now, Shogun is coming off of an impressive TKO victory over Gian Villante, but he was supposed to be facing #6 Ovince St. Preux at UFC Fight Night 116 in a rematch until he pulled out due to a knee injury. Now St.Preux faces Yushin Okami. This is the state Jon Jones leaves the 205 lb division in and to be honest, it was a disappointing outcome any way you look at it. Yes although it is justice that Daniel Cormier got his belt back, the Light Heavyweight division is scrambled in terms of competition and the only fighters that are making any noise, but certainly not a PPV draw, are in the top 4.

So now that the decisions have come down and Jon Jones is out of the picture we must wait for another title defense from DC. This works ok in the grand scheme of things but we still have a question mark on the entire legacy of Jon Jones and certainly one the question of who the better fighter is between Jones and DC. One can only hope that an explosive and fresh UFC newcomer that has showed dynamite power in Oezdemir or a revamped and better than ever veteran out for another shot at the belt in Gustafsson, can breathe new life into a shallow division. Or can Daniel Cormier beat the winner of that potential fight and further argue HIS case for being the true best Light Heavyweight of all time? Only time will tell.

 

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